Welcome to this new section of the “Osservatorio Europeo” website!

In this section, we aim to bring you news, press reviews, commentary and insights into the European Union’s relations with Australia and the Asia-Pacific.

We will strive to cover topics that pertain to the entire Asia-Pacific area. In this introductory section however, we will begin by looking briefly at EU-Australia relations.

Europe has always had strong cultural and historical ties to Australia. With the increasing people, trade and investment flows between the two continents, these ties will continue to be strengthened. In the meantime, the EU and Australia continue to build on their vast wealth of bilateral agreements.


-The EU is Australia’s second largest trading partner in goods and services combined (after China) and its most important partner in the trade of services (primarily travel and transport services).

-Australia is the EU’s 9th largest Foreign Direct Investment partner, while the EU represents 31% of Foreign Direct Investment in Australia, making it the leading investor in Australia.

-There are currently an estimated 1.9 million people born in Europe currently residing in Australia and approximately 500,000 Australians live in Europe.

-A European Union-Australia Partnership Framework has existed since 2008.

-Australia and the EU cooperate in a vast number of areas, from Science and Technology and Education to Environment and Foreign and Security Policy.


Apart from the obvious economic benefits that derive from the sturdy trade relations between the two entities, cooperation in areas such as education and science and technology mean that university students from the EU and Australia can expect greater opportunities in international mobility and access to world-class research facilities.

Cooperation in environment means that we can all look forward to more effective responses to the global threat posed by climate change.

While the Pacific Islands are far from Europe, EU-Australia cooperation in supporting development programs in these areas means that both continents are together contributing to international stability.


The European Australian Business Council (EABC) have proposed that Australia enter into free trade negotiations with the EU. Their report, released in November of last year, suggested that on the basis of surveys conducted amongst EU and Australian businesses and other stakeholders, the time was ripe for fruitful negotiation of a comprehensive agreement.

Both economies stood to gain due to the enormous trade and investment flows between them. Results from the surveys suggested that businesses in the EU and in Australia were particularly interested in liberalisation of labour and capital mobility, harmonisation of certification and standards and streamlining regulation as part of free trade agreement talks.

With particular reference to Italy, it is interesting to hypothesise the effects that liberalised labour mobility may have had on Italy’s large number of emigrants headed towards Australia, had a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) already been in place. Remembering that over the past 4 years that have coincided with the economic crisis, the number of temporary Italian migrants in Australia has grown exponentially, reaching a number of entrants that are comparable to the 1950s wave of Italian immigration to Australia. In the year 2012-13, an estimated 20,000 young Italians entered Australia on a temporary non-tourist visa. Certainly, it would have been easier and cheaper for young Italians to work in Australia had a FTA already been negotiated.

For a copy of the EABC report, visit: http://www.eabc.com.au/


This year Australia will be hosting the G20 summit. The youth forum that runs parallel to it, the Y20, will be held from the 12th to the 15th of July in Sydney.

Each G20 country will be sending five young delegates, responsible for presenting youth issues to the summit as experienced in their countries. Italy will be sending five of its best and brightest to give voice to the concerns of Italian youth on issues such as unemployment and job creation, as well as sustainability and international mobility.

One of the Italian delegates is a graduate of Sapienza University’s Faculty of Political Science, Chiara Ratzenberger. She took time out of her busy schedule preparing for the summit to answer a few questions for the European Observatory.

What is the most important issue you would like to emerge from the summit?

Even though all of the subjects handled in the G20 summit are of high importance, the problems that concern me the most, as an Italian, are of course those related to the recent global and financial crisis, which hit Italy quite strongly. These would be youth employment and growth. It’s important to find new solutions to boost economic growth, and in this way, raise the employment rate.

Your profile explains that you will be concentrating on issues of global citizenship. What do you think is the first step towards realising something like global citizenship?

There are many obstacles that hinder a real global citizenship still: visa procedures, inefficient immigration policies, problems related to social security in other countries, different sets of human rights granted. The European Union has done a lot to remove many of them regionally in order to grant European citizenship to the inhabitants of its member countries. In today’s world, though, as globalization and new markets make labour mobility an increasingly frequent phenomenon, regional answers to this issue are not sufficient anymore. The first step towards global citizenship is therefore, in my opinion, a multilateral agreement between G20 countries to grant specific rights to migrating workers.

You will be travelling to Australia, a country that has seen a new wave of European migration to its shores in the wake of the economic crisis, especially from Italy. How might less traditional ideas of citizenship benefit young Italian emigrants?

Australia has a very efficient immigration policy that adjusts to working vacancies and allows immigrants to enter the labour market directly. Those who permanently move to Australia will, sooner or later, be integrated in the Australian citizens’ benefits system (by becoming Australian citizens), and will therefore be protected by the Australian government. But even these workers, and those who stay for a short time to then move back to their countries, will eventually face problems related to medical care, pensions, recognition of education, etc. Facing these challenges will, hopefully, solve these issues.

On a personal note, how would you describe the experience of being an Italian delegate to the Y20 and travelling over 16,000km to participate in this summit?

The opportunity to take part in such an important forum is unique, and the negotiations, which are being done online, are occupying a lot of my free time. It’s important to feel that, even as a young person, you can make a difference and bring forward new ideas that will be taken into consideration by the governments. Naturally, I will use this opportunity to visit this country as well, since it’s the first time I’ll be there!

Chiara’s profile can be viewed on the Young Ambassadors website: http://www.youngambassadorssociety.org/chiara-ratzenberger/?lang=en

The Italian delegation’s updates can be followed on Twitter: @YAS_Society


The various delegations to the Y20 are currently engaged in online negotiations using the Yammer platform.

Some of the proposals made by the Italian delegation in the lead up to the summit are:

– Support and incentives for young entrepreneurs, including access to micro-credit;

– Guaranteeing work rights and minimum wages for young workers;

– The creation of a Youth Employment Rating to assess the level and quality of youth employment across industries;

– Use of alternative economic indicators to GDP, that take into consideration long-term investments, infrastructure, well-being and education;

– Simplification of bureaucratic procedures surrounding the international recognition of qualifications and the issuing of visas to ensure greater efficiency;

– The extension of social security benefits to citizens living beyond the borders of their home country;

– Subsidies for sustainable and local agricultural production to ensure food security;

– Incentives for sustainable development in urban planning and transport.


If you think you have what it takes and would like to be considered as a delegate for future summits of the G20 or other international events, visit the Young Ambassadors Society website and get involved:



European Union Studies Association Asia Pacific (EUSAAP) ran a successful conference in Melbourne on EU relations with Asia Pacific.

Some of the salient issues discussed included:

The predominance of economic interest in European interaction with the Asia-Pacific;

-lack of cohesion in EU member states’ foreign policy and objectives in the area, in particular the role of the UK, engaged militarily in the area through the Five Powers Defence Arrangements;
-soft power versus hard power and the trade-off between ineffectiveness in EU’s crisis response and its standing as a non-threatening actor in the region;
-EU’s important role in capacity building and the delivery of expertise;
the need for more EU engagement in managing non-traditional security threats such as food security, terrorism, piracy, climate change conditions and disaster-induced displacement;
-EU as a successful model of regionalism that many Asian countries look to, despite its inapplicability to the area;
-the predominance of China as EU’s interlocutor in the region, at the expense of other Asia-Pacific countries.

For more detailed information on the conference, material presented and a full list of participants, visit:



An exciting opportunity exists for an interested individual at post-doctoral level to engage in teaching, researching and outreach activities with the consortium of Hong Kong universities in the field of Urban Geography.

The call for candidates can be downloaded at the following the link below. The position is due to start on the 1st of September and will remain open until a suitable candidate is selected. It is advisable to read the call for candidates carefully and contact the person listed therein to ensure that the position has not been filled before preparing an application.


To view other conferences, activities and initiatives being organised by the EUAP, visit their website:



From the 2nd to the 4th of April, Athens hosted the Second International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI). This is an area of development that interests universities worldwide and also EU-Australia relations given it is an area in which the two have pledged support for increasing cooperation and agreements.

Several Australians were speakers at the conference;

-Professor Suzanne Miller, CEO & Director of the Queensland Museum Network;
-Mr. Dom English, Group Manager, Research and Strategy Group of the Department of Education;
-Ms. Ditta Zizi, Branch Manager, Department of Education;
-Profe-ssor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist;
-Mr. Rhys Francis, Director of eResearch Futures P/L;
-Mr. John Gunn, CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science;
-Ms. Rosie Hicks, CEO of Australian National Fabrication Facility;
-Dr. Ross Wilkinson, Executive Director of Australian National Data Service;
-Professor Richard Roberts, ARC Australian Laureate Fellow & Director of Centre for Archaeological Science at the -University of Wollongong;
-Ms. Clare McLaughlin, Science Counsellor, Australian Mission to the EU.

The speakers covered a range of topics from governance of research infrastructures to the development of e-infrastructures and innovation. Important issues were those relating to sharing knowledge, collaborative research and the essential role of global research infrastructures.

The ICRI in Athens followed up on recommendations made in the 3rd EU-Australia Research Infrastructure workshop held in November of 2013 in Canberra. The EU and Australia made arrangements for access to research facilities, sharing technical expertise and skills development as well as increasing cooperation.

Follow the links below for documents relating to both the ICRI in Athens and the EU-Australia workshop in Canberra.

Useful links:




The EU delegation’s ambassador to Australia is Italian.

Mr. Sem Fabrizi was born in Italy and completed his undergraduate studies in International Law and International Economics at Sapienza University.

He is not the only Italian member of the delegation. The First Counsellor heading the Trade and Economics section of the delegation is Mr. Andrea Nicolaj. He too is a Sapienza University alumni with a Degree in Political Science from our university.

Useful links: